Naked Rambler Remanded In Custody

Naked rambler Stephen Gough has been remanded in custody for allegedly breaching an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) banning him from going nude in public places just minutes after it was imposed.

The order was issued at Southampton Magistrates' Court on Thursday February 28th stating that he must ''wear sufficient clothing in public to at least cover his genitalia and buttocks'' apart from at nudist beaches and at appropriate medical examinations.

But the 54-year-old, of Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire, was arrested as he left the court naked after refusing the offer of clothing and a lift to a police station by police.

And he appeared in the dock at the same court today without any clothing on.

Charles Nightingale, prosecuting, said: ''Yesterday afternoon an application was heard for an interim Asbo.

''That application was contested but that interim order was made.''

He continued: ''He was offered provision of clothing by officers which he declined.

''He was then offered by officers transport which would have taken him to a local police station where he would also have been provided clothing and again he declined.

''He then left the building clothed in boots and socks and rucksack and therefore when he left the building he was in breach of the order.''

Gough indicated that he would plead not guilty to the breach of the order that covers all of England and Wales and is effective until May 10 and is backed by the threat of a prison sentence.

He has served several jail terms for refusing to get dressed in public places, including courtrooms.

Gough also pleaded not guilty to another offence of causing harassment, alarm or distress in Basingstoke on February 27.

Mr Nightingale said that a female motorist, who has a history of being sexually abused, had become distressed when she saw Gough walking naked in the street.

He said: ''The woman was driving along the road in a perfectly normal way when she sees a member of the public walking towards her and she sees this tall man which brings to mind for her the sexual abuse she has suffered.

''The public has a right not to be put in the way of personal, emotional disturbance.''

Jeffrey Norie-Miller, defending, said that his client believed he was entitled under the European Convention of Human Rights to be naked in public.

He said: ''Mr Gough believes it is his right not to wear clothes and go about his normal activities in that state of undress.''

The court heard that Gough has 16 other offences awaiting trial and he was remanded in custody until the case could be heard at Southampton Crown Court on March 25.

Sandy Grapes, chairwoman of the panel, told Gough: ''This is not suitable for being dealt with here and should be sent to the crown court as the likely sentence is greater than we can give.''

Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire police jointly applied for the Asbo as they say Gough has caused ''much offence nationwide'' as well as to clarify the legal position.

Roger Trencher, force solicitor, said yesterday:

''Hampshire Constabulary sought an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) because Stephen Gough has caused much offence nationwide and he has used a considerable amount of police time in England, Wales and Scotland.

''This is because he insists on rambling naked.

''He refuses to be deterred by the criminal law.

''He believes the law is uncertain on the issue of public nudity.

''We applied, in consultation with Eastleigh Borough Council, for an Asbo to bring some clarity to the situation.

''We hoped the court would agree that, because of the public offence that has been caused and the police time used, it is in the public interest that Mr Gough be required to wear clothing sufficient to prevent the offence.

''We sought an order for him to wear sufficient clothing in public to at least cover his genitalia and buttocks.

''The constabulary and many residents of Hampshire are pleased with the court's decision to grant the anti-social behaviour order.

''Any breach of the order could result in a prison sentence for Mr Gough.''